Spanish classes learn from pen pals

Jessica Gonzalez’s face lit up as she remembered the moment she received her first letter.
“Everybody was so excited to receive the letters,” the senior said. “They also included their Twitter and Instagram names.”

A pen pal project with students in Spain has just started here involving Raquel Chavez’s Spanish classes. These classes are interacting with their pen pals as an educational experience where students will be sending letters in the language they are learning. They are communicating with students attending Ikasbidea Ikastola, a school in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

“It’s interesting to me,” junior Ferdie Montoya said.“It’s great to expand our culture and learn about their lifestyle.”

It’s… interesting to see how they’re learning our language as we learn theirs.”

— Ferdie Montoya

The idea of pen pal came from Ana Laura Gonzalez-Coria, a teacher in Spain who is also a Stagg alumnus. After hearing about this project in December, Chavez really liked the idea and decided to implement it into her curriculum.

Soon after, the actual writing of letters by the students in Spain started in the beginning of January. AP Spanish and Spanish 5-6 students received their first letters on Feb. 19. Sending the letters took two months because of a shipping mishap.

The main reason Gonzalez-Coria started the pen pal project is so students can have an opportunity to interact by practicing the language they’re learning. “I thought it would be a great way to get my students interested in the English language,” Gonzalez-Coria said in an email. “It’s also a great way for them to learn about the American culture.”

“It’s kind of interesting to see how they’re learning our language as we learn theirs,” Montoya said.
Although Gonzalez-Coria thinks Skyping would be another option for students to connect with their pen pals, they wouldn’t be able to, due to the nine-hour time difference from California to Spain.
Chavez mentioned the students in Spain are interested in two types of American candy: Hershey’s Kisses and Jolly Ranchers. Chavez’s students have already written their letters back to their pen pals, and Chavez has sent some candies to go along. They will write back multiple times, each time counting towards her students’ grades.

Despite the shipping delay, students in both countries look forward to conversing more with each other in the near future. “I don’t know how many letters will be exchanged this year,” Gonzalez-Coria said. “I would hope maybe four, just so the students can exchange letters more than once.”